What the Nation's Leading Papers Said This Week

The market meltdown. Whither Boeing's execs? If hoof-and-mouth reaches U.S. shores. Death watch in Las Vegas -- and for the death tax. And: How would you spend your tax cut?

By Eric Hübler

With the first quarter over, many papers carped on behalf of readers. Nobody outdid The Chicago Tribune's special report, "The Quarter From Hell." The San Diego Union-Tribune put a letter to our fear: L -- the chart of a slow rebound.

If you're an investor, you may feel corporate CEOs haven't done much for you lately. The effect isn't mutual, however: The New York Times (free registration required) says the concept of linking CEO pay to stock performance is falling by the wayside.

While we're in the mood for regrets, The Dallas Morning News asks big investors about their biggest mistakes, which include selling real estate too soon and skipping a McDonald's franchise. Still, somebody must be raking it in: Prime yacht berths are hard to find, says The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

An hour of sleep isn't the only thing we lost this Sunday: The Denver Rocky Mountain News published its last Sunday edition as part of its joint operating agreement with The Denver Post. In a nice irony, the Rocky's lead business story was about how Boeing, having jilted Seattle, probably won't move to Denver.

HOOF AND MOUTH. Let's face it, corporate profiles can be snoozers. But in this piece on biotech pioneer Genentech, The San Jose Mercury News captures the excitement of curing diseases.

If epidemics scare you, wait 'til you read The Kansas City Star's history of global contagions. Conclusion: you can't halt diseases at border crossings. The Star reports on how quickly hoof-and-mouth has spread and what the U.S. will do if it hits here -- including calling out the military.

You know times are bad when you can lose money even when taking money from people is your business. The Los Angeles Times says Las Vegas is on a death watch for the new Aladdin casino, which suffers from design and planning problems that tend to send gamblers to the competition.

Americans are missing out on investment opportunities in Africa -- and so are Africans, a Michigan investor tells The Detroit News. Think Namibia. The Philadelphia Inquirer brings more news out of Africa: Of a church that raised money and introduced cell phones to parishioners all at once.

BUSH'S COMFY SCHEDULE. Construction, a dangerous profession, is riskier than it has to be because of lax oversight and disagreements over who is responsible for worker safety, reports The Denver Post. Also: the end of the job boom means workers can no longer push employers around. And when you get rooked by a boiler room brokerage, the only entity worth suing may be the clearing firm.

If only this were an April Fool's put-on. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, continuing its series on steelmaker LTV Corp., shows how a once cash-rich company has been left nearly penniless.

Relocating is such a drag that some high-tech execs haven't done it. The Arizona Republic reports on folks who commute weekly from Phoenix to Silicon Valley. President Bush might not approve of the hours these guys put in, though. Bush favors an easygoing work schedule andThe New York Times wonders whether that will rub off on the country.

Small airlines are flying more passengers than ever, on bigger planes than ever, but their aviators are still paid like bush pilots. The current strike at Delta subsidiary Comair could alter the financial dynamics of the "short haul" aviation industry, says The Orlando Sentinel.

More on workers' struggles: The Massachusetts attorney general is helping illegal aliens get justice from exploitative employers while promising not to report them to the INS, says The Boston Globe.

DEATH TAX DEBATE. Here's a good but not totally balanced read from The Baltimore Sun on "minority set-aside" construction contracts. It's told entirely from the viewpoint of a contractor who has won such contracts. He, duh, favors them.

Here's a good read and good journalism from The Seattle Times: Both sides of the debate over whether to abolish the inheritance tax get sympathetic ink. And the issue is humanized with profiles of business owners who fear being unable to pass on their life's work to the next generation.

Finally this week, The St. Petersburg Times reports on the Beltway tax debate: If we all get $300 refund checks, will we selflessly spend the money, thereby aiding the economy, or selfishly and foolishly save it? So here, friends, is Eric's Pledge to America: I'll spend $100 on theater tickets, $100 on dinner, $30 on a sitter and $70 on floor mats for my Saturn. I'll even post receipts on the Web.

Hübler reports for The Denver Post